Other Destinations

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Off-beat family adventures

On the lookout for something a bit different? Don’t see anything you fancy in our standard list of family holiday destinations? Looking to be challenged or at least taken a little outside your comfort zone?

Between us in the office, we have about two centuries of travel experience (and counting) and have ticked off countries as varied as Venezuela, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Mali and Guyana. We love travel, wherever and whenever, and over the years have built up an enviable network of local contacts.

The destinations below may not be quite mainstream enough to warrant a whole individual section on our website, but they are places where we have fantastic in-country partners and are confident we can arrange a fabulous (if unusual) family holiday.

1. Uzbekistan

Samarkand - The Avenue of Tombs - Uzbekistan

Avenue of mausoleums, Samarkand

This former Soviet republic is famed for its UNESCO-listed Silk Road cities, but dramatic deserts and mountain ranges also have family appeal. Fabulous activities here include staying in a yurt in the Kyzylkum Desert, exploring the narrow backstreets of fabled Samarkand and sampling freshly barbequed lamb skewers in the markets of Khiva. High-speed trains make it easy to get around Uzbekistan despite the distances, and everything is well set up for families.

2. Montenegro

Tara River Montenegro

Tara River Canyon

Craggy mountains, medieval villages and Adriatic beaches make this Balkan gem a joy to discover. In Lake Skadar you can enjoy kayaking, swimming and gentle bike rides through the vineyards; moving on to the Bay of Kotor there’s coastal fun including paddle-boarding, sailing and savouring a gelato as you explore the pretty streets if Kotor and Perast. Also don’t miss the Tara River Canyon for epic white-water rafting and Durmitor National Park for jaw-dropping mountain scenery. Check out our action-packed Montenegro top 10.

3. Malawi

Fishermen at Lake Malawi

Lake Malawi fishermen

Combining big-game safaris, water-based fun including kayaking, catamaran sailing, snorkelling, and diving on Lake Malawi, and culture, this landlocked country in southeastern Africa is an interesting choice for parents with teens, with an off-the-beaten-track feel. Its most popular park or reserve is Liwonde, where boat safaris along the River Shire offer sightings of the Big Five and incredible birdlife.

4. Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni salt flats

Uyuni Salt Flats

This undiscovered gem offers a huge variety of landscapes and authentic experiences – without the crowds. Discover the fascinating La Paz Witches Market, wander cobbled streets in colonial towns, climb to dizzy heights in the snow-capped Andes and head underground in the Potosi silver mines. Explore the tropical Amazon jungle and be wowed by exploding geysers and multi-coloured lagoons in the vast Uyuni Salt Flats.

5. Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan eagle hunter, with mountain backdrop

Eagle hunter

More than 80 mountain ranges give this landlocked Central Asian republic a deeply rugged feel and a sense of total disconnect from the modern world. This sense is heightened by meeting nomadic herders and eagle hunters in remote locations such as Song Kol Lake, going horse-riding (you can even ride out to Song Kol over two or three days), and staying in a yurt.

6. Georgia

Ananuri Fortress and Church, Georgia

Ananuri Fortress

Located where Europe and Asia meet, this one-time former Soviet republic combines wild landscapes, charming Caucasus mountain villages and Black Sea beaches. Brilliant with older kids, it offer activities including mountain-biking, horse-riding, white-water rafting and wildlife spotting (the likes of Eurasian lynx, chamois, brown bear and eagles) in national parks. Another must is the spellbinding cave town of Vardzia.

7. Philippines

Aerial photo of Palawan El Nido Philippines

El Nido

This Southeast Asia country is made up of thousands of islands, all unique, that are fun to hop around by local ferry – you’ll be rewarded by an array of landscapes including picture-postcard white-sand beaches, hidden caves, lush rice terraces and thick jungle. Great destinations include El Nido with its soaring karst mountains, out-of-this-world diving and snorkelling, sparkling lagoons and wonderful cave experiences.

8. São Tomé and Principe

San Antonio, Principe

Santo Antonio, Principe

Part of a volcano chain, this African island nation near the equator stands out for its combination of impressive rock and coral formations, rainforests and beaches, making it a nature lovers’ paradise and a true outdoor playground for families who love the likes of swimming, snorkelling or diving amidst turtles, dolphin spotting, quad-biking along dirt roads, and hiking to waterfalls.

9. Pakistan

Pakistan mountains

Karakoram Mountains

Sitting at the confluence of three of the world’s mightiest mountain ranges (the Himalayas, Karakorum and Hindu Kush), it’s no surprise that Pakistan’s scenery is utterly breathtaking. Lofty snow-capped peaks soar above terraced orchards and pretty stone villages, a carpet of orange apricots drying across the roofs. This is trekkers paradise but further south your days will be spent exploring ornate palaces, imposing mosques and thriving, colourful markets.

10. Zambia

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

South Luangwa National Park

Often combined with a stay in a Lake Malawi ‘beach resort’, Zambia brings together some of the world’s top game reserves (and some of the best guiding in Africa) – full of elephant, lion, giraffe, hippo, leopard and more – and mighty Victoria Falls. Dubbed the adventure capital of Africa, the latter has offers a full range of activities including micro-lighting, bungee-jumping, zip-lining and white-water rafting.

11. El Salvador

El Salvador Izalco volcano

Izalco Volcano

The smallest country in Central America punches above its weight with its towering live volcanoes, crater lakes and uncrowded Mayan ruins. Trekking is popular here, amongst the green lagoons, coffee plantations and cloud forest. Explore indigo workshops and the vibrant art scene of colonial Suchitoto and enjoy amazing wildlife encounters with turtles, toucans, ocelots and spider monkeys.

12. Ethiopia

Priest in yellow robe at Lalibela, rock-hewn church in background

Rock-hewn church, Lalibela

No fewer than the eight UNESCO World Heritage sites make this mountainous country in the Horn of Africa a fascinating place to visit, but the plant and animal life is spectacular too – it includes Ethiopian wolves (red jackals), gelada baboons and Walia ibex. Other highlights are the rock-hewn churches, the island monasteries in Lake Tana and Gondar’s fairytale-like castles and palaces.

13. Albania

Albanian Alps

Albania Alps

Adriatic and Ionian coastlines plus an alpine region in the north (wonderfully known as The Accursed Mountains) give this small Balkan Peninsula country a lot to offer active families. Its untouched Divjaka-Karavasta National Park has hiking through a sandy dune forest and past Albania’s biggest lagoon, with animals including curly pelicans to spot, while the ‘Albanian Riviera’ is superb for beach time.

14. Chile

Atacama Desert, Chile

Atacama Desert

Jaw-dropping wilderness and remote landscapes make this hiking heaven – from the aquamarine lagoons, geysers and salt flats of the Atacama Desert in the north to the dramatic Patagonian mountains and glaciers of Torres del Paine in the south. Raft beneath snow-capped volcanoes in the Lake District, view the Moai statues of Easter Island, cruise amongst penguins and whales and horse-ride through Maipo Valley vineyards.

15. Guyana

Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

Kaieteur Falls

Sixty percent of this small, mainly English-speaking country in north-east South America is primary rainforest (a part of the Amazon), giving it a wilderness feel. It’s not the easiest place to travel around but will reward you with the likes of the Kaieteur Falls and Iwokrama Canopy Walkway. And with the added bonus that only a tiny handful of travellers make it here, so you will feel like you have the place entirely to yourselves!

16. St Lucia

St Lucia - Pitons

Pitons, St Lucia

This lush Caribbean island is about more than its (wonderful) beach and pool life – fun abounds in the form of hikes in the UNESCO-listed Piton Mountains, zip-wiring through the rainforest, and soaking in volcanic mud baths. The snorkelling and diving is spellbinding, and there are boat trips in search of dolphins and whales and even a replica pirate schooner to try out.

17. Ghana

Elmina Fort, Ghana

Elmina Fort, Ghana

On the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, Ghana blends Atlantic beaches with UNESCO-listed forts and national parks full of elephant, lion, antelope, baboons and more. It may not quite rival the great wildlife reserves of East and Southern Africa, but here you can combine safari with completely unique cultural experiences. Design and stamp your own distinctive kente cloth, make hand-made glass beads and buy produce in the market to cook your own West African feast.

18. Nicaragua

Colourful Cathedral of Granada, Nicaragua, with blue sky

Granada Cathedral

A microcosm of Central America, this little-visited country offers unforgettable experiences – sandboard down Cerro Negro volcano, dive in thermally heated Apoyo Lagoon and experience the explosive Masaya Lava Night Tour. Spot sloths in the rainforest canopy, wander colourful artisan markets in colonial Leon and Granada and tour coffee and cacao plantations on Ometepe Island. End on Pacific or Caribbean beaches for snorkelling, surfing and sea turtles.

19. Rwanda

Gorilla mother and baby - Stubborn Mule Travel's other destinations - Rwanda

Mountain Gorillas

You may be familiar with the gorilla trekking in Rwanda (minimum age of 15), but this landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley also has chimps and monkeys to spot, great bird-watching, nature hikes and even water sports such as kayaking and paddle-boarding on Lake Kivu. Meanwhile, Akagera National Park is a Big Five destination, and there are also river boats to see crocs and hippos.

20. Bhutan

Tigers Nest Monastery, Bhutan

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Walking and culture come together beautifully in this Buddhist kingdom known as the Happiest Country in the World. Trek between hilltop temples and fortress monasteries known as dzongs, over high passes, through rice terraces, dwarf bamboo forests and glacial valleys. Prayer flags and spectacular Himalayan views surround. Visit the ancient Tiger’s Nest Monastery and barter for Thangka paintings in the capital, Thimpu.

Get in touch 

This is not an exhaustive list! If you fancy somewhere not listed here, it’s always worth giving us a call to see if we can assist. Ring us on 01728 752751 or use our contact form. We’d be delighted to hear from you.


Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.

01728 752751

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